September 9, 2009
Dr. Michael Arguello
• Jamaica is an island in the Carribean,
south of Cuba.
• The island is mountainous and
tropical with beautiful beaches and
• It is the third largest island of the
Greater Antilles in the West Indies.
• There are thermal springs in various
areas on the island. There are no
volcanoes, but the island is subject to
• The island is tropical with a mean
annual temperature of 80 degrees
• Annual rainfall varies by region
throughout the island. Late summer,
early fall is hurricane season for
• The island is rich in bauxite deposits.
• There is a wide variety of plants,
trees, and birds.
• There are no venomous reptiles in
Jamaica; this is a good thing.
• The indigenous people of Jamaica came
from South America. They were Taino
and spoke Arawakan.
• Christopher Columbus claimed the
island for Spain in 1494. It was later won
by Britain in the 17th century.
• The first Spanish settlement, Sevilla,
had to be abandoned due to pirate raids.
• After becoming a British colony around
• During this time, sugar was a lucrative
commodity. Plantations were established
and African slaves were imported to work
• Jamaica was the world‟s leading sugar
exported for 200 years.
• In the 19th century, England abolished
the slave trade and passed laws to improve
how blacks were treated.
• Around 1962, Jamaica became
independent from Britain. However, it is
still in the realm of the Commonwealth of
Britain and Queen Elizabeth II is the Head
• Descendents of Indian and Chinese
indentured servants live in Jamaica today.
• After their independence, Jamaica
experienced a strong economic growth.
Bauxite and tourism being two lucrative
commodities. However, worldwide
downturns experienced in the „70s and
„80s and aluminum manufacturer
problems have taken their toll on
Jamaica‟s economy. Tourism remains a
good money maker.
• The population of Jamaica is
• The majority of the population are
descendents of the African slaves who
worked the sugar plantations during the
first 200 years of British rule.
• There are also descendents of the
Indian and Chinese indentured servants
living in Jamaica.
• The population is 2,825,928. The
annual increase recently declined to
0.76. Many Jamaicans have
immigrated to the United States,
Britain, and Latin America.
• English is the official language.
There is also a dialect spoken which
incorporates African, Spanish, and
• Christianity is the predominant
religion in Jamaica.
• There is a great deal of poverty in
• The culture in Jamaica is a blend of
British and African as a result of being
a British colony and the sugar
plantations worked by African slaves.
• Jamaica was a part of the British
empire for over 300 years. Their
customs reflect this influence.
• The African flavors are manifested in
their music and dance.
• Raggae music is distinctly Jamaican.
People who are into music will
instantly recognize Raggae music and
make the connection to Jamaica.
• Calypso and Soca are two other
genres of music from Jamaica and the
• Jerk chicken and jerk pork are
Jamaican recipes specific to Jamaica
which use spices such as cinnamon,
nutmeg and ginger.
September 22, 2009
Dr. Michael Arguello
• There are over 30 traditional
Jamaican dances, which follow three
specific styles: African derived,
European derived, and Creole which is
a fusion of the first two styles.
• The African style dances were
mainly for religious/worship
ceremonies, but the quadrille is of a
social nature. The quadrille was
usually accompanied with a traditional
African work song sung by slaves.
• European dances were brought to
Jamaica by indentured servants from
Scotland, England & Ireland. The
most popular is called the Morris.
• Creole dances were created in
Jamaica and fuse together the African
& European styles together. The oldest
& most popular is called Johnkannu.
• Jamaican music comes from an
African foundation, but has been
influenced by the music of England &
• Reggae is a genre which is always
associated with Jamaica. It has a very
relaxing vibe, with a rhythmic
propulsion that makes you want to get
up and dance. The great-great grand-
daddy of Reggae is “mento,” not to be
confused with calypso, a form of folk
music. The lyrical inspiration for
mento was tropical issues.
• Ska is another genre of Jamaica. It
combines a New Orleans blues style
with mento. Popular with young
Jamaicans and the poorer population.
• Jamaican music has changed a lot
over the past 35 years.
• The artists of Jamaica display a
spirituality that parallels the other
aspects of the isolation of the island.
Edna Manley‟s “Negro Aroused” and
Ronald Moody‟s “Head” are
considered icons of visual art pieces.
These pieces are said to be imbued
• Looking back over the pieces of art
up to the 1960s, you see the colonial‟s
model influences, particularly
economically speaking. Judging from
what the art reflects, English culture
influences were greatest on the
Jamaican population. There is not too
much influence from Africa, the
Chinese or India.
• Jamaica‟s literature is well known
internationally. Their literature has
come from a rich tradition of
storytelling (oral history), connecting
both the written and oral forms.
• Jamaica‟s natural speech is an
element which helps to make their
• A famous poet/author from Jamaica,
Claude McKay, immigrated to the
United States and was an inspiration to
the writers of the Harlem Renaissance
in the 1920/1930s.
September 22, 2009
Dr. Michael Arguello
• Jamaica is now an independent
country, but part of the commonwealth
of England. It is a parliamentary
democracy, closely modeled after
England‟s. It was formerly a colony of
• There are three branches of
government. The executive branch is
led by the Prime Minister. The other
two are the Legislative and Judicial
branches. This is also like the U.S.
• In 2006, for the first time in history,
Jamaica had a woman for Prime
• There are two major political parties.
Both are associated with big trade
unions. A third party, not associated
with any unions, was created in 1995,
but is no longer very active.
• Slum lords called “dons” at one time
gain power through links to the
• Since the 1980s and 1990s, the slum
lords‟ involvement with drug
trafficking has enabled them to be
independent of the political leadership.
• This is a very unfortunate reality.
• Jamaica‟s economic problems are
naturally a big part of their political
• The unemployment rate is 15%
and inflation is 9.4%.
• Over the last 5 years, the garment
industry has suffered from reduced
export earnings & continued factory
closures. This may be attributed to
intense competition, absence of
NAFTA parity & drug
• The Government of Jamaica hopes
to encourage economic activity
through, in part, privatization,
reduced interest rates and boosting
• The United States is Jamaica‟s
most important trading partner.
Jamaica relies heavily on tourism
from the United States.
• Many U.S. businesses have
operations in Jamaica. The
United States‟ total investment in
Jamaica is more than $3 billion.
• Jamaica is an active member of
the United Nations.
For Jamaica Part III, my only source was Wikipedia.